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Commemorative Stamps on Akshardham Temple, New Delhi and Pramukh Swami Maharaj – 7th December 2016.

Pramukh Swami Maharaj was born in a farmer’s family on 7th December 1921, in the village of Chansad, located near Vadodara. His childhood name was Shantilal. From his childhood, his inclination was to perform spiritual austerities in the Himalayas. However, during his adolescent years, he was attracted to the pure life of Brahmaswarup Shastriji Maharaj, Bhagwan Swaminarayan’s third spiritual successor. After completing his initial studies at the age of 18, he renounced the world and was initiated by Shastriji Maharaj in 1940, and renamed Narayanswarupdas Swami. His striking humility, noble services, saintliness and selfless desire to help all, won him the love of everyone. In 1950, when he was only 28 years old, Shastriji Maharaj appointed him as the president of BAPS. From then on, he affectionately became known as ‘Pramukh Swami’. Yogiji Maharaj declared Pramukh Swami Maharaj to be his spiritual successor and guru of BAPS (Bochasanwasi Akshar Purushottam Sanstha), a role he commenced in 1971.

As a President of BAPS, Pramukh Swami Maharaj had overseen the growth of BAPS from an organization centered in Gujarat, to one spread around the world, maintaining many Hindu Mandirs and centers outside of India. He built more than 1,100 Hindu temples, including the Swaminarayan Akshardham temples in New Delhi and Gandhinagar. He was believed by his followers to be in constant communion with Swaminarayan, and ontologically, the manifestation of Akshar, the eternal abode of Swaminarayan.

Akshardham Temple or Swaminarayan Akshardham complex is a temple, and a spiritual-cultural campus in New Delhi. Akshardham Temple displays millennia of traditional Hindu and Indian culture, spirituality, and architecture. 'Akshardham' means the divine abode of God.

The temple, which attracts approximately 70 percent of all tourists who visit Delhi was constructed by Bochasanwasi Shri Akshar Purushottam Swaminarayan Sanstha (BAPS) and was officially opened on 6th November 2005 by Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam. It sits near the banks of the Yamuna adjacent to the 2010 Commonwealth Games village in eastern New Delhi. The temple, at the centre of the complex, was built according to the Vastu Shastra and Pancharatra shastra. The complex features an Abhisheka Mandap, Sahaj Anand water show, a thematic garden and three exhibitions namely Sahajanand Darshan (Hall of Values), Neelkanth Darshan (an IMAX film on the early life of Swaminarayan as the teenage yogi, Neelkanth), and Sanskruti Darshan (cultural boat ride).

Commemorative Stamps on Akshardham Temple, New Delhi and Pramukh Swami Maharaj Set of two Commemorative Stamps (Se-tenant pair) on Akshardham Temple, New Delhi and Pramukh Swami Maharaj was released by Shri Amit Shah, President of the Bharatiya Janata Party and Shri Vijay Rupani, Chief Minister of Gujarat in presence of HH Mahant Swami Maharaj on the occasion of Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s 96th Janma Jayanti Mahotsav held at Surat on 7th December 2016.

Commemorative Stamps on Akshardham Temple, New Delhi and Pramukh Swami Maharaj

Commemorative Stamps on Exotic Birds – 5th December 2016.

Department of Posts issued Commemorative Stamps and Miniature Sheets on Exotic Birds Blue Throated Macaw, Sun Conure, Magnum Amazon, Cape Parrot, Hyacinth Macaw and Lesser Sulphur Crested Cockatoo on 5th December 2016.

Commemorative Stamp on Blue Throated MacawBlue Throated Macaw: The blue-throated macaw (Ara glaucogularis), also known as the Caninde macaw or Wagler's macaw, is a macaw known from the Llanos de Mojos in north Bolivia, being concentrated east of the upper río Mamoré, Beni (Duffield and Hesse 1997, Yamashita and Barros 1997), where the wild population was discovered in 1992. This species is cultural heritage of Bolivia. This species qualifies as Critically Endangered because its population is extremely small and each isolated subpopulation is tiny and declining because of trade and habitat loss. Bas per the IUCN Red list Blue-throated Macaws are protected by trading prohibitions. In 2007 the population was estimated at 250-300 individuals. The population is currently thought to be stable following successful conservation measures and near elimination of trade. The blue-throated macaw is about 85 cm long including the length of its tail feathers and has a wingspan of approximately three feet or 0.9 m. It weighs about 900 g to 1,100 g. Upperparts are turquoise-blue, slightly duller on crown and brighter on rump. Underparts largely bright yellow but the vent is pale blue.

Commemorative Stamp on Sun ConureSun Conure: Sun Conure (Aratinga solstitialis) also known as Yellow Conure or Sun Parakeet is a medium-sized brightly colored parrot native to the north-eastern coastal forests of South America, specifically northeastern Brazil and Guyana. This species is endangered by loss of habitat and trapping for the pet trade. Their numbers are declining, and they are now very scarce or absent across many parts of its former range. However, they are popular and relatively common in the pet trade. Sun conures are now listed as endangered by the IUCN. Sun conures are very social birds, typically living in flocks. They form monogamous pairs for reproduction and nest in palm cavities in the tropics. Sun Conures measure 30 cm in length, including the long tail. They weigh between 100 – 130 g, with an average weight of 110 g. As with all conures, the Sun Conure has the bare, white skin patch around the eyes. The plumage of the sun conure is a strikingly beautiful red/orange/yellow over most of the bird. The wings have a slight green on the wings. The adult male and female are similar in appearance, with predominantly golden-yellow plumage and orange-flushed underparts and face.

Commemorative Stamp on Magnum AmazonMagnum Amazon: The yellow-headed amazon (Amazona oratrix), also known as the yellow-headed parrot and double yellow-headed amazon, is an endangered amazon parrot of Mexico and northern Central America. It is a stocky short-tailed green parrot with a yellow head. It prefers to live in mangrove forests or forests near rivers or other bodies of water. The yellow-headed amazon averages 38–43 centimeters long. The shape is typical of amazons, with a robust build, rounded wings, and a square tail. The body is bright green, with yellow on the head, dark scallops on the neck, red at the bend of the wing, and yellow thighs. The flight feathers are blackish to bluish violet with a red patch on the outer secondaries. The base of the tail also has a red patch, which is usually hidden. The outer tail feathers have yellowish tips. It is a popular pet and an excellent talker. The variety "Magna Amazon" (or "Magnum Amazon") is bred for more yellow and commands a premium price as a pet.

Commemorative Stamp on Cape ParrotCape Parrot: The Cape parrot (Poicephalus robustus) or Levaillant's parrot is a temperate forest dwelling Poicephalus parrot endemic to South Africa. It was formerly grouped as a subspecies (along with the savanna-dwelling brown-necked parrot (P. fuscicollis fuscicollis) and grey-headed parrot (P. f. suahelicus)) but is now considered a distinct species. The Cape parrot is a short-tailed moderately large bird with a very large beak used to crack all sorts of hard nuts and fruit kernels, especially those of African yellowwood trees Podocarpus spp.. This contrasts with the closely related savanna species (Poicephalus fuscicollis) which feeds on and a wide variety of tropical woodland trees such as Marula, Commiphora spp. and Terminalia spp. These species are sexually dimorphic, with females typically sporting an orange frontal patch on the forehead. Juveniles also show a larger orange - pink patch on the forehead but lack the red on shoulders and legs of adults. These plumage characteristics vary among individuals and among the three recognized forms.

Commemorative Stamp on Hyacinth MacawHyacinth Macaw: The hyacinth macaw (Anodorhynchus hyacinthinus), or hyacinthine macaw, is a parrot native to central and eastern South America. With a length (from the top of its head to the tip of its long pointed tail) of about 100 cm it is longer than any other species of parrot. It is the largest macaw and the largest flying parrot species, though the flightless kakapo of New Zealand can outweigh it at up to 3.5 kg. While generally easily recognized, it can be confused with the far rarer and smaller Lear's macaw. Habitat loss and the trapping of wild birds for the pet trade have taken a heavy toll on their population in the wild, so the species is classified as Vulnerable on the International Union for Conservation of Nature's Red List, and it is protected by its listing on Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

Commemorative Stamp on Lesser Sulphur Crested CockatooLesser Sulphur Crested Cockatoo: The yellow-crested cockatoo (Cacatua sulphurea) also known as the lesser sulphur-crested cockatoo, is a medium-sized (approximately 34 cm long) cockatoo with white plumage, bluish-white bare orbital skin, grey feet, a black bill, and a retractile yellow or orange crest. The sexes are similar. The yellow-crested cockatoo is found in wooded and cultivated areas of East Timor and Indonesia's islands of Sulawesi and the Lesser Sundas. It is easily confused with the larger and more common sulphur-crested cockatoo, which has a more easterly distribution and can be distinguished by the lack of pale yellow coloring on its cheeks (although some sulphur-cresteds develop yellowish patches). Also, the yellow-crested cockatoo's crest is a brighter color, closer to orange. The citron-crested cockatoo, which is a subspecies of the yellow-crested cockatoo, is similar, but its crest is clear orange. The yellow-crested cockatoo's diet consists mainly of seeds, buds, fruits, nuts and herbaceous plants.

Miniature Sheet on Exotic Birds

Miniature Sheet on Exotic Birds

Special Cover on 30th All India Postal Kabaddi Tournament – 2nd December 2016.

Kabaddi is an ancient game played in many parts of India. The mention of the sport dates back to ancient times and is traced in Indian mythology. It is known by its regional names in different parts of the subcontinent, such as Kapaddi or "Chadukudu" in Tamil Nadu, Kabaddi in Karnataka, Telangana, Gujarat, hadudu in Bengal, kauddi in the Punjab region, chedugudu in Andhra Pradesh and bhavatik in Maldives. Kabaddi received international exposure during the 1936 Berlin Olympics, demonstrated by India. The game was introduced in the Indian National Games at Calcutta in 1938. In 1950 the All India Kabaddi Federation (AIKF) came into existence and framed the rules. The AIKF was reconstituted as The Amateur Kabaddi Federation of India (AKFI) in 1972 and the first national tournament for men was held in Chennai. The game was included for the first time in the Asian Games in Beijing in 1990 where seven teams took part.

The Department of Posts conducts All India Postal Kabaddi Tournament every year in different Postal Circles. 30th All India Postal Kabaddi Tournament was held in Bengaluru at Sree Kanteerava Stadium from 29th November to 2nd December for the year 2016 at the behest of the Directorate of the Department of Posts. Kabbadi team of Karnataka Postal Circle won the tournament for four consecutive years from 2009 to 2013 and became runners-up in 2015. On the occasion of 30th All India Postal Kabaddi Tournament a Special Cover was released on 2nd December 2016 at Bengaluru. (Special Cover approval no. KTK/24/2016).

Special Cover on 30th All India Postal Kabaddi Tournament

Special Cover on 30th All India Postal Kabaddi Tournament

Courtesy: Suresh Rao, Bengaluru

Commemorative Stamp on AIIMS (All-India Institute of Medical Sciences) - 3rd December 2016.

Commemorative Stamp on AIIMSAll-India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) was established in 1956 as an institution of national importance by an Act of Parliament with the objects to develop patterns of teaching in Undergraduate and Post-graduate Medical Education in all its branches so as to demonstrate a high standard of Medical Education in India; to bring together in one place educational facilities of the highest order for the training of personnel in all important branches of health activity; and to attain self-sufficiency in Post-graduate Medical Education. AIIMS is located at Ansari Nagar in Delhi, adjacent to the South Extension-II market, and lies on the south-eastern quadrant of Aurbindo Marg and Inner Ring Road crossing.

AIIMS was established in New Delhi after former Indian prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru's initial proposal to set up the institute in Calcutta was turned down by the then Chief Minister of West Bengal Bidhan Chandra Roy. It was the vision of Rajkumari Amrit Kaur, the first Health Minister of India, to establish an institute of such nature in India. The institute's buildings were formally opened by the British monarch on January 27, 1961 at an impressive ceremony attended by the then President Rajendra Prasad. The Institute has comprehensive facilities for teaching, research and patient-care. As provided in the Act, AIIMS conducts teaching programs in medical and para-medical courses both at undergraduate and postgraduate levels and awards its own degrees. Teaching and research are conducted in 42 disciplines. In the field of medical research AIIMS is the lead, having more than 600 research publications by its faculty and researchers in a year. AIIMS also runs a College of Nursing and trains students for B.Sc.(Hons.) Nursing post-certificate) degrees.

As a part of Diamond Jubilee celebration of AIIMS, a Commemorative Stamp was released by The Union Home Minister, Shri Rajnath Singh and MoS for Communications and Railways Shri Manoj Sinha at the 44th Annual Convocation of the AIIMS in New Delhi on 3rd December 2016 in presence of Shri Jagat Prakash Nadda Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare and other dignitaries.

Commemorative Stamp on AIIMS (All-India Institute of Medical Sciences)

Commemorative Stamp on AIIMS (All-India Institute of Medical Sciences)

Special Cover on Mithun - 1st December 2016.

Arunachalpex-2016, a district level philatelic exhibition was held at Itanagar on 1st and 2nd December 2016. On the occasion a Special Cover on Mithun, the State animal of Arunachal Pradesh was released on 1st December 2016. (Special Cover approval no. NE/12/2016-17).

Mithun, also known as ‘Cattle of Mountain” is an important bovine species of north-eastern hill region of India and of China, Myanmar, Bhutan and Bangladesh. This magnificent massive bovine is presently reared under free-range condition in the hill forests at an altitude of 1000 to 3000 m above mean sea level. The scientific name of the Mithun is Bos Frontalis. Mithuns are wild and each family has a very indigenous marking as a cut on the ear. Mithun is the State animal of Arunachal Pradesh. The skin colour of the Mithun is Black-brownish in both sexes and the portion of the limbs are white or yellowish. It plays a special role in both religious and social life of the people of Arunachal Pradesh. To the Idu-Mishmi, Nyishi, Tagin or Adi-Galo (Bangni-Bokar, Lhobas including Pasi, Padam, Minyong, Galo), the possession of Mithun is the traditional measure of a family’s wealth. Mithun are not milked or put to work but given supplementary care while grazing in the woods, until they are ritually slaughtered or killed for local consumption.

Special Cover on Mithun

Courtesy: Joy Justin Bongcher, Shillong

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